At this stage in his career, Michael Crabtree no longer is considered a No. 1 wide receiver – even if he’s still convinced he is among the league’s elite.
Crabtree, who signed with Oakland Monday as a free agent, is coming off a 68-catch, 698-yard season with the 49ers and – because of an Achilles’ injury – hasn’t come close to matching his best season of 2012 when he had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and nine TDs.
But in signing Crabtree, the Raiders do a few things: 1) They add a fine possession receiver who’s shown good hands and route-running through his six NFL seasons, and who could become a terrific target of confidence for quarterback Derek Carr; 2) They add to the depth of the receiving corps and create a competitive environment in the group that should help bring it to a higher level in 2015, particularly if they also bring in a receiver from the first or second round of the draft; 3) And, they add to the quality of the running game, because Crabtree – as he proved in San Francisco – is a willing and skilled blocker.
One of the Raiders’ goals in 2015 is to run the ball better, and Crabtree was consistently praised during his seasons in San Francisco for the quality of his downfield blocking.
Plus, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Crabtree, 27, should be a player with plenty of reasons to play well in 2015. Schefter reports that Crabtree signed a one-year deal with the Raiders worth $3 million, with another $2 million available in incentives.
With Crabtree now on the roster, the Raiders already have a stronger corps of wide receivers than they did in 2014. James Jones, Rod Streater and Crabtree sit atop the list, with Andre Holmes, Brice Butler and Kenbrell Thompkins also in the mix.
If the Raiders select Amari Cooper or Kevin White with the fourth overall pick in the draft that begins April 30, Carr will have a variety of pass catchers to pick from in new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s more wide-open scheme.